By Wendeen H. Eolis
Poker Player Newspaper
April 11, 2014

After nearly 3 months of silence, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) is poised to announce its decisions regarding distribution of the remaining prize pool that has been left in limbo following the cancelation of Event #1 in the Borgata Winter Poker Open last January.

Shortly before day 3 was to commence, the DGE suspended the event, ultimately canceling it altogether due to the introduction of counterfeit chips into the tournament.

The remaining unpaid prize pool was put into a trust pending the outcome of the DGE investigation of the matter. According to lawyers surrounding the DGE and others familiar with the DGE’s recent deliberations, the investigation has concluded. All that seems left is public disclosure of its report and related rulings.

All eyes are on the DGE as the first weekend of the Borgata Spring Open gets under way. Changes in tournament procedures are obvious, with far more personnel engaged in the coordination and supervision of the proceedings then ever before. And, bagging and tagging of chips at the end of play each day is taking considerably longer. It is apparently Borgata’s obligation to verify each players chip count. Previously, Borgata allowed independent chip counts annotated by players.

The DGE’s findings result in other specific procedural changes, as well, reportedly being implemented as part of a studious effort to enhance the security of poker tournaments in all of the casinos they regulate in New Jersey, according to casino executives in multiple AC poker rooms. The Borgata has also invested in high tech superior quality chips for tournaments; would be cheaters beware!

Meanwhile, poker professionals had best to brace themselves for a stunning decision with respect to allocations of the unpaid prize pool monies payable by the Borgata under the DGE’s orders.And, those champing at the bit for a decision by DGE that calls out Borgata as negligent or liable to return monies to players outside the unpaid prize pool would be well advised to think again before making a bet on it.

The regulators are expected to take into account thoughtful advice from the various lawyers on hand as to how best reduce their risk in the inevitable event of lawsuits that will test their reasoning from available facts.

It is certain that the DGE will favor players who could have been affected by the introduction of counterfeit chips over players who were not ever subjected to the contaminated chips, says one state official on condition of anonymity.

In addition, the top 27 players, many of whom have anticipated a pro rata chip chop of the undistributed prize pool allocated to those spots, will probably engage in much debate about the actual outcome, especially for those well above the middle of the pack, suggests another insider in the halls of government.

One prominent lawyer knowledgeable about the DGE’s “concerns” about fairness, points out that any player who benefited from the counterfeit chips was as much an issue to grapple with as those who played and could have lost their stack because of this.

So, don’t be surprised if the DGE knocks your socks off while striving to make its most cogent legally defensible case for a fair and equitable resolution to the Borgata counterfeit chip caper fiasco.

Look for more information and analysis here at Poker Player Newspaper following public announcements by the DGE and Borgata.

Author’s note: This post has been dictated but not read by WHE.